EU Timber Regulatory Framework
Although the EU Timber Regulation (EUTR) entered into force in 2010, March 2020 marks the 7th anniversary of when the EUTR became fully applicable in all EU Member States.
While a number of implementation gaps remain after 10 years of the Regulation being in force, many Member States have developed systems of checks and are applying sanctions more consistently. It is noteworthy that the past year has seen many results of checks performed previously in 2018. Indeed, 2018 had been what could be called a ‘peak year’ when it comes to the number of checks performed both on domestic and importing operators by Competent Authorities since applicability of the EUTR. 2019 saw some of the resulting enforcement action from these checks, as well as more than 171 substantiated concerns received by Competent Authorities in the first half of the year. Remaining challenges include the need for increased controls on domestic timber operators, budget and capacity allocation within Competent Authorities, as well as tackling shifts in the import routes of illegally sourced timber.
In its 2019 Communication on Stepping up EU Action to Protect and Restore the World’s Forests, the Commission acknowledged that “the EU’s objective to reduce gross tropical deforestation by 50% by 2020 is unlikely to be met…”. Thus, ClientEarth welcomes the initiatives undertaken by the Commission in early 2020 which include the publication of both the Commission’s Roadmap for the Fitness Check on the EUTR and FLEGT Regulation, as well as the Commission’s Inception Impact Assessment on deforestation. These initiatives pave the way for a detailed examination of the existing regulatory framework in the EU and present opportunities to reinforce that framework with new, robust regulatory and non-regulatory measures.
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